Working Parents & Child Custody in Michigan
Downriver child custody lawyers often get asked how being the working parent can affect their custody case. Parenting time and other considerations may be taken into account.
From time-to-time the Michigan Court of Appeals will issue an opinion that reflects how the court or case law have evolved over time to reflect changes in society. Years ago, the typical family saw the husband going out to work while the wife stayed home to raise the children.
Obviously, this has changed in the last 20-30 years, with most families needing two incomes to get by, and women entering the workforce to maintain independence. A recently decided custody case addressed these more modern arrangements.
The case of Bridget Bofysil v Sarah Bofysil was decided on April 23rd, 2020. The court (in its own words) stated the issue as follows. For one parent to stay home to raise the children, the other must go out into the world and generate an income to support the family. Does working outside the home compromise a parent’s ability to forge and maintain a strong, healthy relationship with her children? What if both parents work outside the home? Is the child essentially without a parent truly committed to parenting and all that the job entails?
How Does Being the “Working” Parent Affect My Custody Case in a Michigan Divorce?
In the past, the court gave a very heavy preference to the stay-at-home parent when considering custody and granting parenting time. Traditionally, the mother would be granted physical custody and the father would have parenting time on the weekends and maybe a meal during the week. Over time, this has transformed to a model where the courts are more likely to divide the time in a more closely equal manner and marriage is no longer limited to parties of the opposite sex.
In the Bofysil case, the divorce court found that Sarah and Bridget’s child had an established custodial environment only with Sarah because she was the stay at home mom while the parties were together and the child was with her the majority of the time.
The appellate court found that it was error for the trial court to do this and reversed that decision. It stated that It was a serious error to discount the role of Bridget simply because Bridget worked outside the home to support her family. This error influenced the applicable burden of proof and permeated the court’s assessment of the child’s best interests.
Should I Be Working Outside The Home If I Want Custody?
As stated above, parents that work outside the home are not subjected to the same prejudices that they were years ago. This recent court case reaffirms that a working parent has just as much of a relationship with their child as a non-working or stay-at-home parent does.
Some courts across the country have even found that in situations where one parent works and they other does not that the working parent is setting an example and teaching their child work ethic, which is just as important to the child’s development as assisting with homework.
What if I’m A Stay-At-Home Parent?
Your employment status does not really matter anymore. Now courts in Michigan cannot take into account whether one parent was the stay-at-home parent or spent more time with the child simply because the other parent was working to support the family when deciding the issue of an established custodial environment when deciding custody cases.
This is big deal and should have the effective result of taking the stay-at-home status out of the equation when determining custody of children in Michigan.
If you are seeking custody of your children, you need an expert on your side. Contact The Mitten Law Firm today for all of your Downriver custody case needs.
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